Many people assume that the Peetimes we pick for movies are just the boring bits. That’s certainly true for some Peetimes but not all. A more accurate description of Peetimes in general would be: the parts of a movie that are easiest to summarize without the viewer missing anything crucial to the story. Of course that’s a little more wordy than, “Peetimes are just the boring bits,” so I understand why people promulgate the former.
Desperately seeking Peetimes
It helps to understand how we actually go about finding Peetimes in the first place. Picture me, my mother or sister, sitting in the back corner of the theater — positioned so that we don’t disturb anyone — with a notepad in our laps, holding our phone with a timer running. We’re watching the movie, looking for something that might make a good Peetime cue because first and foremost the cue has to be noticeable. When we see a potential cue we peek at the timer and jot down how far into the movie we are and then start writing down what’s happening. This is the hardest part for us because we have to keep up with what’s happening visually as well as key bits of dialog. It’s something that takes a lot of practice and I think we’ve gotten better over time.
If while we’re writing our notes we feel like we can’t keep up with important details then obviously this scene won’t work as a Peetime. So we cross that out and flip the page and wait for another potential cue. Also, if something funny, or exciting, or dramatic happens then we’ll cross off those notes, flip the page, and start the process all over.
Since we’ve been doing this for such a long time we’ve started to notice patterns in movies that make good Peetimes. For example: oftentimes near the end of an action film there is a short character bonding moment followed by the infiltration scene. That’s the scene where the good guys prepare for the final battle. For instance in the movie Zero Dark Thirty — the movie about the capture of Bin Laden — there is a very good Peetime that starts when the soldiers board the helicopters that transport them to Bin Laden’s house. Here’s the synopsis:
Very long scene of the soldiers loading up on the helicopters. Then another long scene of them flying low through the mountains. The scenes cut back and forth between headquarters where everyone is watching on satellite and back to the soldiers.
Along the way one of the helicopters bounces around a bit. One of the soldiers asks the others, “Who here has been in a helo crash before?” Everyone raises their hands. He smiles and says, “Okay, so we’re all good.”
They enter Pakistan airspace.
That’s a great Peetime because it’s near the end of a long movie. You know that the action is building toward the climax and you certainly don’t want to miss any of that, but you also don’t want to try and hold your pee for another 30 minutes, which would diminish your enjoyment of the ending. At the same time this scene is an important part of the pacing of the movie. It would be horrible to quickly cut from the soldiers boarding the helicopters to immediately arriving at Bin Laden’s front door. The audience needs this quiet time to let the tension build. However, if you need to pee this is a perfect time to release the tension in your bladder.